The Study series by Maria V. Snyder is a personal favorite of mine, and Poison Study holds a special place in my heart.
Yelena Zaltana is in prison and awaiting death after murdering the son of the leader of her General. When she is dragged from her cell and placed before Valek, the notorious right hand man to the Commander, she is given a choice – accept her death sentence or accept the position as the Commander’s food tester. Yelena takes her chances and accept the position, taking tutelage from Valek on how to detect poisons. As Yelena beings her new position, she comes to realize several things: 1) she has latent magical powers 2) someone is trying to kill her 3)she may be an integral part in a plot to overthrow the Commander
I love Poison Study because Maria V. Snyder creates such a vividly stoic yet vibrant world. Yelena is a strong heroine, a phoenix that rises from her ashes to capture the hearts to those around her all while kicking some serious arse. You can’t help but be fascinated by the magical hierarchy and the history of Yelena’s world as she begins to make her mark. Another big reason for my love of Poison Study? I love Valek. He’s probably one of my favorite heroes, one I like returning to time and time again. He’s a lethally trained assassin, a man of marble who softens only to Yelena’s hard headed resolve:
Valek was liquid in motion. As I watched him, one word came to mind: beautiful. His movements had the speed and cadence of a complex dance performance. In comparison, his adversary resembled a newborn colt, lurching and jerking his arms and legs as if this were his first time on his feet. Valek’s smooth lunges and graceful parries disarmed his opponent in no time.
Poison Study is an excellent magical fantasy that is guaranteed to sweep you away. Magic Study and Fire Study follow and are great additions onto Yelena’s story and growth as a character, though personally Poison Study reigns supreme in my world.
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder, 416 pgs, 3/1/07
Romance: 3/5 Raunch: 2/5